September 2006

2 laptops up on Linux

I’ve dual-booted both my old Dell C600 and my HP/Compaq N6125. The Dell’s running Ubuntu 6.06 and the Compaq is running Fedora Core 5 The Compaq is a Turion 64 ML34 with built-in Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g whereas the Dell is a Pentium III and I’ve got an add-on DLink card (don’t have the particulars handy right now but I’ll update this later with it).

Bottom line: Excellent! Got wireless WPA authentication working after “only” a couple of days 🙂 But, it’s fast and has just about everything I need. My only complaint so far: the music clients distributed with Fedora don’t support MP3 🙁

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Panasonic HD-PLC for $149 at Fry’s

CNet’s review of the Panasonic HD-PLC Powerline adapter makes it sound pretty good. The HD-PLC is one of the new generation of powerline Ethernet adapters that boasts much higher theoretical throughput than their predecessors. While I don’t believe 190Mbps, anything at or above about 10Mbps is pretty decent and, on top of everything else, it won’t clog my airwaves. I’ve got my home theater PC downstairs near the TV and my high-speed connection up in my “computer room”. Right now, my HTPC communicates with the Internet via a wireless USB adapter and, while it works well enough, there are times that it loses the connection. Going to a powerline connection will hopefully smooth the overall data rates.

Fry’s has them on sale this weekend for $149 — note that this is for 2 adapters, not one (BL-PA100KTA as opposed to BL-PA100A)! I’ll let you know if I pick one up and how it goes.

Update, 9/23/2006
I stopped by on my way home from work yesterday and picked this little bugger up. Installed it today and it’s working like a charm! Absolutely NO setup required — plug them in, attach an Ethernet cable and, voila! And, believe it or not, the Internet radio streams my HTPC is receiving are rock solid, even though they’re coming in at a max of 192K. Guess my wireless would drop out occasionally and that’s what caused me to lose the stream every so often. It hasn’t happened once today.

These were marked $179 for the pairso I only saved about $30 but, for those of you that know me well, that just makes me like ’em that much better 🙂 A single adapter is marked $119 so, if I wanted, I could get two more for another $149. The “starter kit” comes with a master and slave preconfigured for each other. That’s not really a big deal because it’s really easy to configure them but it makes for a great plug and play experience like I had. How would I use another master/slave combination? I wouldn’t. I’d reconfigure the new master to be a slave to the current master and also re-slave the new slave to the current master. You can have up to 16 units total on your circuit and you can hook them to hubs or switches or anything — just use it like a regular Ethernet drop. Matter of fact, when I was a Fry’s, I picked up a small 5-port switch at Fry’s and hooked my adapter to it and then hooked my HTPC to the switch (man, I coulda used that earlier in the week when I was trying to get my wireless cards working under Linux on my laptops!).

I don’t get the maximum throughput — you can hit a button on the adaptor and it’ll measure the speed between it and the master — the top range is > 30Mbps and I get the range just below that which I figure is probably 20-30Mbps. It’s plenty fast for me.

Bottom line: I like it! Highly recommended.

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Impressive Ubuntu (Linux) install!

Yesterday I decided to finally install Ubuntu Linux on my Dell C600 laptop with its 700 MHz PIII. I’d just reinstalled XP a few months ago and figured that I could use Ubuntu instead of XP as a backup laptop. Well, was I surprised when the Ubuntu installer offered to resize one of my NTFS partitions to make room! I figured, what the heck, so I let it go. Well, guess what? — it worked! The NTFS partition is about 6GB smaller and still completely usable from within XP. So, my laptop now has both XP SP2 and Ubuntu Linux.


Took most of half of yesterday to figure out how to get wireless working. Ubuntu is based on Debian so I read a bit about it online and then figured out that I was reading the wrong stuff since I use WPA. So, I reset my brain and started reading a whole different set of documentation, some of which was out of date and some was just plain ole difficult to fathom. But, in the end, I got it running. Now, when I plug my wireless card it, wpa_supplicant starts up automatically and logs me into the correct access point on my home network.

Again, sweet!

My experiences, though, show me why Linux isn’t ready for the casual home user. I had to go through way too much techie stuff for the average user. My knowledge of Unix in general and Linux in particular along with my networking knowledge were the only things that saved me. It also reminds me why I gave up using VM under GNU Emacs to read my email. When you have the time, it’s great to customize your environment and have to rebuild it every time a new release comes out but when you don’t have the time … well, let’s just say it’s not the best.

OK, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me say again about my Ubuntu installation:


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Microsoft trying to outdo Unix again

Just heard about Microsoft’s PowerShell (you can download therelease candidate from that page, too). It’s a new scripting language/environment based on .NET that tries to do what Unix has had inherent in it since day 1 — link commands together and provide an easy-to-use, coherent and powerful scripting environment. I don’t know how many of you know about WSH (Windows Scripting Host) but that’s been around for a long time but it’s beena bit difficult to use. PowerShell looks to be more powerful but I don’t know that it’s gonna do it for them.Let’s face it, if you design it from the ground up for modularity, like Unix, it’s difficult to beat.

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